Stick Shift: 2018 Toyota C-HR

With the passing of the Scion brand, some people wondered if that might mark the end of all things a little wild and crazy from Toyota. The brand new for 2018 C-HR helps alleviate some of these fears, showing us that there’s still some of fun to be had from the big brand. Scion was originally intended to capitalize on the young and tuner hungry. Enthusiasts like me who were saving their pennies with the help of Cup O Noodle and overtime shifts at work to afford the latest bolt-on upgrade, oversized spoiler or radical looking body kit. Toyota realized the value of offering great customizing options right in house, instead of letting that money slip away to third party manufacturers like Enkei, Greddy or Apexi. They could’ve taken it much further, and I’m sad that ultimately it wasn’t more of a success, but the C-HR is proof that Toyota hasn’t completely abandoned its younger, edgier consumers.

Styling on the Toyota C-HR exudes an unmistakeable Scion-like flamboyance. Body lines are cut deep and exaggerated in their flow over the flared fenders and across the vehicles sides, swooping up as they approach the tail. LED headlamps are angled down in a menacing shape and the wheels pair to the overall sporty look nicely and look great at 18 inches. The rear door handles are integrated in a funky way, sitting just below a small spoiler. While its looks may not turn every head, the C-HR certainly makes a visual statement.

While the C-HR comes in a variety of trims, the XLE Premium I enjoyed only cost a little more than the standard XLE, but includes a nice sized list of desirable features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, fog lights, lumbar support, keyless entry and ignition and heated front seats. Well worth the little extra you’ll spend in my opinion. On the inside, you’ll find abundant headroom and very comfortable front seats. tire noise can border on intrusive at highway speeds, and the engine takes on a strained note at high rpms, but in general, the ride experience is a pleasant one.

The small rear windows and high sweeping sheet metal make for significant blind spots, which make the blind-spot monitors in the Premium edition all the more important. A funky layout of interior controls also made for awkward locations for things like cupholders and general storage compartments, or lack thereof. I was also disappointed to see an absence of tech options in the C-HR. For a small SUV targeting the younger generation, why is the touchscreen missing any and all smartphone integration software? Also, the backup camera display on the rearview mirror is too small and awkwardly located for my tastes.

With only a 2.0L 4-cylinder making 144 hp, the C-HR is much slower than its appearances would suggest. Passing slower traffic on the highway, or even trying to climb a steep hill requires lots of pedal on metal. In the handling department though it delivers very well, sporting independent MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension. It corners flat, has fairly responsive steering and is nimble around turns. For a vehicle that some may see only as a smaller, more affordable version of the very successful RAV4, there’s no denying that this little crossover SUV has a bit of the Scion soul in it. While it would benefit from some extra horsepower, it’s a comfortable commuter with confidence in the corners and plenty of bravado.

Price as tested: $25,958.00

By: Brandon Randall


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